-Mama Marcella at 20-ish -Marcela Jr. at 20-ish
I want to tell you this story. I have told you the untold story of my original dad, the hero status I raised him to, because most of us do, when folks die young, tragically, dramatically. And because his heroism was brash, in your face, and because we as a culture have this bizarre tendency to idolize the dead, forget their misdeeds, while we ignore the living, breathing heroes who walk among us, every single day. My mother is one of those silent heroes.
She turned 81 today, and I need to tell you this story while my mama Marcella, yes, two L’s in her name is still with us, because she deserves more than a eulogy, because she deserves more than me extolling her virtues, waxing poetic about her loving (mis?)deeds, when she can no longer hear me.
It is far less cumbersome to paint a balanced portrait of a dead hero than a live one. For a dead hero cannot take offense, be hurt by, feel misunderstood, when I shed light on the dark side of their humanity, or my experience of it. The telling of these truths as I know them, shining light on all of our human parts, is a significant piece of the indescribable thing which drives me to write anything, about anything, in the first place. It is about normalizing humanity again, in all of its glory and folly. It is about refusing to buy into culturally-boxed ideas of what is real, what is appropriate, what is worthwhile, who and sadly what, we ought to idolize.
My mama Marcella is a Warrior Woman. One of a much subtler ilk and variety than the outwardly visible, unfiltered rebel-rebel style I inherited from our mutual hero, my original dad. She has known more strife and hardship, worked harder in her life, waded through more shit than you and I combined have ever flushed. She has trudged up more hills, bled herself dry for my dad, for my step-dad, for my brother and I, our children, and so many others, more times than I have the mathematical skillset to count.
She grew up in war-torn Eastern Europe with a mal-adjusted, alcohol-loving, violence-inclined father. When my grandmother finally managed to get them the hell out of his reach, with nowhere to go and no-how to get there, she learned by the same quietly tenacious example of her mama, Žofie Ševčíková, that I have experienced and learned from her, my mama Marcella, with two L’s.
When my babi Ševčíková forbid her to date my über unruly, leather clad, motor bike riding, womanizing, Czech Casanova of a dad, she up and married that boy, with my big brother Tom already in her womb. Keep in mind that this was 1960 in Eastern Europe, and nothing about him or their love story, was ‘appropriate’ or ‘acceptable,’ but especially not in my very strict and proper grandmother’s world view, and the hopes and vision she had for her only child.
When my dad was up against an extended jail term (for various political and other rebellions) she lessened that term by several years, doing what a good, loyal wife would do and made sure the authorities did not find everything they were looking for; she shoveled coal in our basement for days, to ‘obscure’ the immediate visual existence of various artifacts of interest to them.
When the Soviets rolled their tanks into our lives on that notoriously famous day in 1968, she quietly went about the business of being my dad’s right hand, in the complex affair of ‘getting him out of jail,’ think about that, and all of us out of the country. She literally bled her hands dry when she went to work with him in a metal toy factory in Germany while we were in hiding, because they were looking for him. She did it again when we finally got to this country, working at night producing and repairing the massive anchor lines used in the Port of Vancouver.
When he died two years later in a mysterious mining ‘accident’ in Stewart BC, she found herself standing in a world completely unknown to her, with two kids under the age of 12, no language, no job, no money, and no family support to speak of. We had fled former Czechoslovakia ‘illegally’ and going back was not an option. So like the Warrior Woman she is, she chose to put down his rifle the day they came to tell us he was dead, she chose to stay alive, and make the life for me and my brother that he always dreamed of, for all of us. I don’t think she ever thought of it as making a life for herself and her children, it was always about making sure my brother and I had what we needed, and then some. She slaved at several jobs to give us what our two-parent Canadian friends had, and so much more, always. This has never changed.
When we first landed in Canada I felt completely alien and in an effort to fit in, decided to change the spelling of our shared first name, Marcela, to Marcella with two L’s. My 1st grade friend Michelle had two, and I thought if I did, I would be more like her. My mama agreed because she needed her daughter to be happy. When I started to figure out who I really was in my mid-thirties, I changed it back to Marcela with one L, announced it to her, and the woman who hates profanity said ‘fuck you,’ I’m not changing it again. I’m keeping two.’ Insert that accent we all love so much and boom, you know where my feisty comes from. She may be a silent hero, but she ain’t no pushover!
When a millionaire wanna-be-hobby-pimp turned me out and she heard what I was doing for a living, she combed the known strolls in Vancouver looking for me in the middle of the night, and when I started to pump my veins full of poison to kill the pain of inhuman judgement, she never did, judge. She just wanted me to stay alive. When my brother wanted to get married at 18 and needed her signature, she may not have liked it, but she signed, because she wanted to support her son.
When she finally made the decision to pursue a life of her own again and married my second dad Mickey, there was not a moment’s hesitation, when I asked to follow her to Switzerland less than a year after she had moved to be with him. I needed to escape a life I was seriously unprepared for and she needed her daughter to be safe. Naturally she took me in, right into the middle of her new marriage and life. I was so happy for her. It was so short-lived.
You should know that we both cared deeply for him. He was lovely. That phrase is a standing joke between her and I, because in actuality he carried decades of anger and negativity that had nothing to do with my mother or our family, and she was where he directed it, more often than anywhere else, because he knew she would suffer in silence. In the beginning, for the first 20 years, she defended him almost as fiercely as she had defended the folly of her one true love, my original dad. Later, during moments of profound unhappiness and intense vulnerability, she talked about her sadness, but like so many of our species, was afraid of ending up alone in her old age.
So she stayed, stoically, in what I believe was a deeply unhappy union for both of them, for over 3 decades, until he died in 2012. She cared for him for months, brought a hospital bed into their living room. She slept on the couch so he wouldn’t be alone in his illness and fear and anger. We spent a week together sleeping on the floor of his hospice room, so he wouldn’t be alone and afraid and angry when he died. I learned something from her during his illness and ultimate passing, which almost defies description. I believe it is connected to human dignity, in profoundly undignified moments, and complete and utter un-conditionality and commitment.
This very generosity, loyalty and dedication to the well-being of her children and others, continues to be one of her greatest strengths and pitfalls, all in one. I recognize this characteristic well, because I, her youngest apple, have not fallen far from, am still clinging fiercely to parts of her tree. I share her tendency to stay loyal to individuals, organizations even, that by virtue of their less than stellar behaviour toward her or I, have rendered themselves undeserving of said loyalty.
Giving undeserved loyalty is my mother’s Achilles heel. I have learned from her about getting out of really bad situations sooner than later, and I am beyond sad that I had to learn it by the heart-wrenching example of her prolonged suffering.
Máma, I know that my deep sense of empathy, compassion, and to some extent a sense of obligation to others, come from you. I love you so far beyond these few paragraphs, for they are but a mere snapshot into a life most folks would be challenged to imagine, never mind survive and thrive in. I feel that you cannot possibly comprehend the extent to which you have informed some of the best parts of who I am; they are not the outwardly intense and obvious bits I get from my rebel-rebel father, they are the stoic, silent inside that I so often feel is going to break me, but I know is part of the core, the very root system of that apple tree I come from. For you have always been the roots that keep our family tree healthy and strong, and bearing crazy-ass Ševčík-Mrnka-fruit that defies anything like normal, when it comes to categories.
This story is a work in progress. The task of attempting to portray your heroism is one of proportions most epic, and I am overwhelmed with anxiety about getting it right. There are so many more parts, so many more pages in the story of your life that I feel must be included, but it is important that I release this draft from the vault of my beloved writing lappy, before I am paralyzed with the enormity of painting an accurate word picture, of your beautiful soul. The figurative ‘stick people’ I have managed to draw on this page, will have to do, for your 81st birthday, my dearest máma.
I have faith that we will both continue to flex that never-give-up-muscle we have in common, and while another 81 for either of us is a bit of stretch, I choose to believe that we will enjoy many more years of life, love, learning and growing old(er) together.
More filtered than usual, for I know you hate it when I swear, and with all the love I have:
PS: Thanks for the style, we do love our hats and clothes and shoes’n things!
July 17, 2017
All Rights Reserved
here we are again, March 22nd; the 24th March 22nd that I have the privilege of sharing with you; it is the absolute honour of all honours to be your parent. My Sunny-Boy-ManChild-BabyCakes, and all the other crazy names I have attached to your beautiful spirit over the years, you know, the ones you initially balk at, but always throw the good-son towel in on, because you know, mama gonna be mama and call you things other than the names so carefully and lovingly chosen for you before we ever met face to face.
I will spare us the regurgitation of all the reasons I love you so fiercely, we can revisit them here in our old(er) age, in the event that we forget, but they are indelibly etched into the very core of my being either way, so when the world blows up (ala Alex Jones ;) ) and we have lost all e-records and interwebs postings proclaiming my mama love for you, we will know anyway.
This March 22nd begs a different message from me to you. It begs a message of thanks and deeply profound gratitude, and with any luck, some-mama wisdom that one day, you will see fit to use, the way that I was able to use the uncondionality you once again showed me, through some of the toughest shit in a while, over this past year.
Thank you for standing your ground with mama in what in the grand scheme of things was a relatively benign little online exchange, around some political ideas on anti v. pro-activism. The discussion we had off-line about the process of it, for both of us, is what real love, trust, and this thing called relationship, are made of.
Thank you for standing your ground and letting me know in no uncertain terms that you wanted the Europe trip to happen no matter what, but that you would not be happy doing it without the mama. It was our trip for as long as we can both remember, for so many more reasons than I can articulate here, and it matters not, for we both know.
Thank you for forcing mama’s hand, in the kindest, gentlest, but completely Thomas-honest way, and helping me remember what is actually important in the world, reminding me what the last five years of struggle and re-building of Marcela, and by natural extension, how I do ‘parent of Thomas,’ has been all about.
Thank you for seeing beyond the surface of everything that had to do with everything about our going home(s), re-meeting your dad, your brothers, your nieces, your nephew, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, all of them, it.
Thank you for understanding my pain through it, thank you for not trying to fix what was never yours, thank you for holding my hand through all of it, in the midst of your own process through it. Thank you for having your mama’s back, unflinchingly as ever, no matter what.
Thank you for making it one of the most singularly spectacular events in my well-used life, other than the day of your actual birth, 24 years ago today.
Thank you for last summer after we got back. For the ear through the phone line during so many tearful drives to and from Nanaimo, up and down that LaMaHat, for the drive-by huggings at PV and the softness in your voice when you could read my broken heart all over me; the one threatening to obliterate everything I knew to be true about me, again.
Thank you for holding my well-lit heart together with the unconditional glue of who you are, and for seeing it, me, as the fallible human-parent I am, and your loyalty to our relationship not despite that, but because of it.
Thank you for expressing your disdain for men(?) behaving badly in both my personal and professional worlds, and thank you for behaving well despite your disdain and anger toward those less chivalrous, less kind.
Thank you for your response to that most unexpected of phone calls this afternoon from your dad, only one of us responded with the grace and wisdom of the Universe itself; clearly, age is no guarantee of these things, and thank you for understanding, once again, my misguided irritation by parts of said phone call. It was a beautiful thing, and that, is all you saw. I take another page from your book.
Thank you for all of the trust you continue to place in me with the really great, and really tough life shit, and thank you for showing me, over and over again, the many variations on any given theme. For an open-minded mama, my ever well-heeled feet can dig in, hard, at times.
Thank you for simple happiness at the recent changes in my life, completely and utterly bereft of chagrin at the speed in which things are changing. Thank you for understanding that risk is necessary.
Thank you for starting to put into action your next great adventure, and thank you, more than you will ever know, for saying you would come back for next April 25th. Thank you for allowing me to mama-guide you, ok, I ordered you, not to.
Thank you for using the lessons of my and your own well-used life, to propel you forward, ever forward, and for teaching me back, my own preach about teaching children How to think, not what to think.
The beautifully important and life(choice)-scarred words that mean so much to you they are permanently etched onto your forearm often bear true Sunny, ‘Storm is prerequisite for mental gain,’ but just as we are the creators of our own happiness, the same is true for the storms, if only by virtue of the reactions, responses, associations, patterns, meanings, we Choose to attach to any of it; the good, the bad, the ugly, the indifferent, the sublime, and the ridiculous.
That there; be mama’s current learning curve BabyCakes, BabyCzech, and Number One Marsupial-Child! It is my most fervent desire for you, that you don’t require almost 54 years of life to get there, and if you do, I have all the faith in the world, that you will traverse the trails, highways, byways and ditches with the same wild abandon and spirit of risk, that you have watched your mama grow into, and continue to understand, that the Only failure, Ever, is not trying at all.
Our Dorothy used to say, ‘pain and suffering are inevitable in this world, continuing misery, is purely optional.’ Curmudgeonly beauty that she often was, she was right.
I love you with the same ferocity and wild that I often go at anything with, only infinitely deeper.
Tattoo on Sunny’s Arm by Sam, Killer Bees Tattoos – Melbourne, Australia
‘Storm is prerequisite to mental gain’ from ‘Liquid Sovereignty’ by Eydea & Abilities
July 7th has rolled around once more, and 43 years, in this moment feels like 43 seconds, for I will always, and forever, miss you. I get my rebel, my power, my wisdom, my ability to see the truth, my stubborn-never-give-up from you, and also the fragility and dandelion fluff inside that we both hid/e from the rest of the world, so that they cannot harm, damage, our oh-so-vulnerable humanity. It never changes for me, this day. Time does not heal all wounds, it simply grows scar tissue over them which dulls the ache, allows me to think about you with some clarity, remember the entirety of your being, and how you still, 43 years after your untimely departure, teach me, guide me, help me keep my rebel on, with some measure of grace and dignity.
The untold story of my hero
I want to tell you this story. It is the evolving story of a hero, who through the process of me growing up, had to be seen, by me, as human, before he could be my hero, for real for real. He was my first and biological father, Tomáš Mrnka. He was born in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia on October 24th 1935, and died, under extremely curious circumstances, in a mine shaft in Stewart BC, on July 7th, 1971. It was 12 days before my 10th birthday. He was 36 years old, and when he died, everything I ever hoped for, and dreamed of, died with him. For a while… a long while.
I held him on a pedestal of my own making for many, too many, years after his death, and only ever thought about him in a haze of golden glory and undeserved persecution. I only ever told stories of his heroic actions: his undeserved imprisonment in the old country for a democratic cause, his valiant battle to get us, his beloved children and wife, out of the clutches of communism following the Soviet invasion of our beloved land, and into the country that he wanted more than anything to provide us a life in. I knew this story so well I could recite it at the mere whisper of his name, and expound at length on his virtues and sacrifices; for his beloved country, for his beloved family.
The parts I left out of the story, the human bits, are as important a contributor to the true nature of his hero-status as his me-created perfection. He was the first man of many, to hit me and tell me he loves me in the same moment. He did not do this because he was evil, he did it because that is how children were disciplined; it is what he learned in the environment and culture he grew up in. He was unfaithful to his beloved wife, my beloved mother, and considered somewhat of a Casanova. He was a catch: he had one of the few motorcycles in the country at the time, and a full set of leathers, a rebel with a chip on his shoulder, but he had a cause. He had attitude and the inimitable grin, wit and charm of Rhett Butler, and all the girls wanted him. My mother got him, and forgave him, over and over, to keep him. She had endless discord and conflict with her beloved mother because of him. He was not only imprisoned for voicing his political beliefs against the status quo, he was imprisoned for shooting a law officer. I tell you all of this not to be-smudge his memory; I tell you this to illustrate the full context of his humanity, he was so imperfect, so human, but still a hero not despite it, but because of it.
He worked very hard to redeem himself when he brought us here, to make it right, to atone, to take responsibility. I tell you this because we all have a dark side, a side that requires constant work and effort to keep in check, to make certain that it is not given more priority than the hero in all of us. The side that makes poor decisions based on fear rather than the belief that we will get what we need if we act accordingly; the side which is driven by the outside, all the world’s influences, rather than the inside, the core of our humanness, our hearts and souls. The side of us that ignores our innate intuition, even when the warning bells scream like the sirens in a big city. The hero in all of us, the piece that knows love and abuse cannot co-exist in the same environment, the piece that informs every act of kindness and compassion we have ever given freely because that is what gives us the most true happiness. The piece that would die for the people we love, and sometimes for those we don’t even know but feel true human compassion for, that piece, is the one we must nurture, nourish, and encourage to grow and empower.
I could not see my father, Tomaš Mrnka, as the authentic hero he was and is, until I could see the full extent of his humanity, without judgment, or the childish notions I carried about the perfection of a hero. I tell you this story because I have experience with imperfection and humanity, and because I miss my hero today.
Dad, I cannot help but believe that you were there when recently, I visited the places I have some of my strongest and fondest memories of you from, Karlovy Vary, Boży Dar, on the journey of a lifetime with your widow, my mother, and my son, your grandson Thomas. We told him stories about you that he has likely heard a thousand times before, but it was different, for you had walked these streets that we were walking, you held my mother’s hand there, you held mine. You came back to life for me in moments of memory so vivid that they caught my breath, and we all got to know you, and ourselves, a little better than we did in the days, the moments prior.
Rest in peace my beloved dad, and know that the lessons of your life, your imperfect humanity, and your true heroism, have watched over me, followed me, taught me, led me, sometimes astray, but always back, to the true hero in me. 43 years ago on July 7th, my life and world changed in a way that I spent too many years trying to numb, to feel, to figure out, to forget, to remember; and 43 years later I come full circle to face my own imperfection and humanity, once again.
Thank you dad for the continuing lessons. You did well; and although my dark side comes out to play and wreak havoc in my heart and life periodically, I believe that my hero always triumphs in the end. I miss your person every day, but I feel your presence, every second.
Always yours, with all the humanity I have,
(edited from original written July 05, 2012)
~M. Valedictorian Speech, SJ, 2002
Image: Rex King
Dear Sunny, SunnyBoyManChild, Babycakes, number one and original MarsupialBaby, yes you, my heart and soul, my son, Thomas George Raphael Turjancik:
I woke up in Ruswil, Switzerland, at 5:00 a.m. on this day 23 years ago, and said to your dad: “George, wake up, our son just made me wet the bed.” Your dad, whom you will finally see/meet again for the first time in 20 years, a few short weeks from now, was ‘tired’ from our wedding only two days earlier, rolled over and said: “you’re funny, go back to sleep.” At that point, my not-so-inner-mama-bear came out and told him to get the fuck up, we are having Baby-Thomas today! He got up.
We drove to the neighbouring town of Wolhusen, for Ruswil was too small for its own hospital, and it turned out that March 22nd 1991 was a busy day for their tiny maternity ward. In a normal week they have one maybe two babies make their planet earth appearance. On this day however, there were three of you at once, and all three with mothers in varying stages and severity of real and perceived emotional and physical distress. It was a bit of a cluster-fuck.
The one doctor on duty was running back and forth between the three of us, as were the midwife and a couple of nurses, and they were all very relieved when I finally said yes to the laughing gas. That is, until they saw just how happy it made me. I had said no to pain-killing drugs, odd when you consider the dope-induced crash and burn we experienced later on, but at the time, I wanted to feel everything about you, your arrival in my life. I was so giddy that it got hard to push, and the doctor (a male) yelled at me and said “come on! haven’t you ever done this before”? I responded, not so gently with “NO, have you asshole”?!
Your father had had a traumatic experience at the birth of your half-brother Roman, so he kinda gave up on us when it got real. It was a bit of foreshadowing, no? Not a dig at him, not at all, just my reality, and (y)ours I think. Not everyone can stomach reality and truth the way you and I have all these years. But I digress. So, at 1:29 p.m., that time zone, that place, in that moment, you made your début, and my life changed, forever. It changed in a way that is so profound, so beyond my capacity to articulate, well, in these or any other pages, I have written, or will write in the future.
I have often thought about that moment when I realized I was in it alone, as the moment our bond became absolutely bullet proof, for life, no matter what. And so it has been. Through the good, through the bad, through the very very ugly, and painfully, through the indifferent (or ignorant) attitudes of those, whom to this day, feel it is their job to judge and critique, me, and Universe save them from my motherly-wrath, you.
And just as you know and accept my humanity, I am not under any illusion that you are a perfect human, or child, but you are the perfect human-child for me, and truly, had I had the option of choosing, I would have chosen you. Why? Well I am so very glad you asked!
Why do I love thee Thomas? Let us count the ways:
<3 I love you because you have given meaning and purpose to a soul broken, too often, by the cruelties of those with no connection to self, no conscience, no heart.
<3 I love you because no matter what ‘they’ say, you saved my life when I did not believe it was worth saving, but you were/are.
<3 I love you because like your birth, relatively short and painless in the grand scheme of things, parenting you has been a gift and the singular greatest blessing and experience of my life.
<3 I love you because you shine Thomas, I do not wish to set you up for a fall by placing you on a pedestal; but you shine! I knew at 1:29 p.m. on March 22nd, 1991, in that little Swiss hospital, I know it now, and everyone who takes even a second to talk to you knows it, they tell me, all the time.
<3 I love you because you have a deep and profound understanding of my humanity, my imperfection as a human, as a parent, as a ‘helper,’ and you are the only human on the planet who loves me not despite it, but because of it, unconditionally, always; In the same manner that I know and love you, and your perfectly-imperfect humanity.
<3 I love you because you never made me park around the corner to drop you off at school, you always thought I was a cool mom; I imagine a foul mouth and tattoos help with that, but hey, I’ll take it
<3 I love you because you never stopped skipping across parking lots with me, hand in hand, or ‘walking THIS way,’ in grocery stores.
<3 I love you because even when you said that Sunny, SunnyBoy, Number one Marsupial, and ManChild were one thing, but BabyCakes quite another, you never got pissy with me for all the crazy nicknames I have for you. I do, by the way, know that your name is Thomas ;)
<3 I love you because despite, or because of, my fairly strong beliefs about the world and resulting influence in your life, on your beliefs, you have managed to find your own truths, and never been afraid to debate these things with me. I will high-five self for teaching you how to think, not what to think.
<3 I love you because despite me, and my influence, you have become the deeply thoughtful and kind human that you are.
<3 I love you because you really and truly are, the Sun that brightens my worst days, the Shine that makes the sunny ones even brighter, my one and only, always unconditional cheerleader, my one and only child, the best one for me, by far.
Don’t let the darkness in the world make you jaded and broken, the way I was for too many years Sunny, focus on what is good and on doing good, surround yourself with others who are good, and do good. The other is simply too painful, and such a horrible waste of time and breath. Such a horrible waste of time for your compassionate soul.
These past 4 years, including your 22nd, have been fraught with challenge upon challenge, and much loss and pain for both of us, individually and collectively, yet we have proven to one another, and the ever hovering detractors, over and over again, what I have said here: our bond is bullet proof. For we have both taken some shrapnel, at times from one another, only to come out stronger, than ever before, our family of two.
I love you Thomas with something so fierce that it defies mere words.
Always, with everything I have, got your back! No matter what!
All my love, and then some,
The untold story of my hero
I want to tell you this story. It is the evolving story of a hero, who through the process of me growing up, had to be seen, by me, as human, before he could be my hero, for real-for real. He was my first and biological father, Tomáš Mrnka. He was born in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia on October 24th 1935, and died, under extremely curious circumstances, in a mine shaft in Stewart BC, on July 7th, 1971. It was 12 days before my 10th birthday. He was 36 years old, and when he died, everything I ever hoped for, and dreamed of, died with him. For a while, a long while.
For too many years after his death, I held him on a topple-worthy-pedestal of my own making, and only ever thought about him, told stories about him, in terms of heroic actions: his undeserved imprisonment in the old country for a democratic cause, his valiant battle to get us, his beloved children and wife, out of the clutches of communism following the Soviet Invasion of our beloved land, and into the country that he wanted more than anything, to provide us a life in. I knew this story so well I could recite it at the hint of his name, and expound at great length on his virtues and sacrifices; for his beloved country, for his beloved family. The parts I left out of the story, the human bits, are as important a contributor to the true nature of his hero-status as his me-created perfection.
He was the first man of too many, to hit me and tell me he loves me in the same moment. He did not do this because he was evil, he did it because that is how children were disciplined; it is what he learned in the environment and culture he grew up in. He was unfaithful to his beloved wife, my beloved mother, and considered somewhat of a Casanova. He was a catch: he had one of the few motorcycles in the country at the time, and a full set of leathers, a rebel with a chip on his shoulder, but he had a cause. He had the inimitable grin, wit and charm of Rhett Butler, and all the girls wanted him. My mother got him, and forgave him, over and over, to keep him. She had endless discord and conflict with her beloved mother because of him. He was not only imprisoned for voicing his political beliefs against the status quo, he was imprisoned for shooting at a law officer. I tell you all of this not to mar his memory or to diminish his heroic nature; I tell you this to illustrate the full context of his humanity, he was so imperfect, so human but still a hero. He worked very hard to redeem himself when he brought us here, to make it right, to atone, to take responsibility.
I tell you this because we all have a dark side, a side that requires constant work and effort to keep in check, to make certain that it is not given more priority than the hero, in all of us. The dark side makes poor decisions based on fear rather than the belief that we will get what we need if we act accordingly; that side is driven by the external, all the world’s influences, as they are marketed to us, rather than the internal, the core of our humanness, our hearts and souls. The darkness ignores our innate intuition, even when the warning bells scream like the sirens in a big city, ignores, the hero in all of us. That piece, which knows love and abuse cannot co-exist, do not, cannot by nature, live in the same environment. The piece that informs every act of kindness and compassion we have ever given freely, without expectation of reward or need for recognition, because that is what gives us the most true happiness. The piece that would die for the people we love, and sometimes for those we don’t even know, but feel true human empathy for. That piece is the one we must nurture, nourish, and encourage to grow and empower.
I could not see my father, Tomáš Mrnka, as the authentic hero he was and is, until I could see the full extent of his humanity, without judgment, or the childish notions I carried about the perfection of a hero. I tell you this story because I have experience with imperfection and humanity, and because I miss my hero today. Rest in peace dad, and know that the lessons of your life, your perfectly imperfect humanity, and your true heroism, have watched over me, followed me, taught me, led me, sometimes astray, but always back, to the hero in me. More than four decades ago on July 7th, my life and world changed in a way that I spent too many years trying to numb, to feel, to figure out, to forget, to remember; and more than four decades later I come full circle to face my own imperfection and humanity, again. Thank you, dad, for the lessons. You did well; and although my dark side comes out to wreak havoc periodically, I believe that my hero always triumphs in the end. I miss your person every day, but I feel your presence, every second.
M.Y.F.M. July 05, 2012